Jan. 27, 1969

GOOD MORNING: Steve McQueen, who started as a $19-a-day extra, has a date with Boston bankers to discuss indie backing of a Western budgeted at $5 million-plus … McQueen, although happy with his deal at Cinema Center, is anxious to try his hand (Solar’s) bypassing the usual studio exhibition, distribution and overhead costs … He met the money men during location on “Thomas Crown” … And since “Bullitt” the Beantown boys are even more encouraged by the McQueen Group (Steve, Bob Relyea and Jack Reddish). The pic is heading toward a $30 mil mark… “We are not sitting on our ‘Bullitt’ laurels,” McQueen assures. Program for CBS, their “home base” includes a $7 mil adventure-action-suspense drama, “Yucatan,” to be filmed in Mexico and boasting a motorcycle chase to out-do “The Great Escape.” Also blue-printed are “Le Mans” and “Man On A Nylon String” — the last-mentioned is a Solar pic sans Steve. (He’s currently resumed “The Reivers,” shuttered when youngster Michael Vogel fractured his shoulder). The only outside pic McQueen has accepted is John Sturges’ “Yards At Essendorf.” “He is the greatest action direcdtor ,” says Steve who worked on his “Never So Few,” “Great Escape” and “Magnificent Seven” … 2009 Update: Steve McQueen lives again as two companies are plotting McQueen biopics — and never the two shall meet. On Jan. 13, Variety‘s Tatiana Siegel broke the story of the in-the-works McQueen film being readied by producers Michael Cerenzie, Christine Peters, Brian Oliver and Chuck Rock from a bio titled “Steve McQueen: Portrait of an American Rebel.” And on Jan. 27, Siegel informed readers Neile McQueen (Adams, Toffel) is readying “McQueen,” the pic version of her book, “My Husband, My Friend” with producer David Foster who was McQueen’s longtime press agent, Kevin Kasha, Dale “Chip” Rosenbloom, writers Roderick and Bruce Traylor. Neile tells me grandson Steven R.McQueen, son of Chad McQueen would be perfect for the lead role. Neile who has continued her one-woman show at the Gardenia in L.A., the Metropolitan Room in N.Y. and other sites, is taking a breather as she conquers a lung problem — but she’ll be back onstage, she promises. Also included in this McQueen biopic is the role of Steve’s second wife, Ali Mac Graw. “We are very good friends,” Neile volunteers. The McQueen biopic producing team of Peters, Cerenzie, Oliver and Rock tell me their film will be heavy on McQueen’s rise from a boy in reform school to the No. 1 action movie star in the world, depicting his great friendship with stuntman Bud Elkins. They insisted to me McQueen’s international popularity continues as evident by the regular interest evident on blogs — from as far away as China … Having known McQueen through his happier, healthier Hollywood days, I can only tell you he woud have gotten a big laugh out of the fact filmmakers are trying to narrow him down to only one story. He was very complex. “Trying to make a movie about Steve McQueen is like trying to make a movie about Audrey Hepburn,” MacGraw said. “But I wish Neile McQueen well.”